The Madaba Archaeological Park West is home to a wide variety of archaeological and cultural heritage structures. The archaeological park functions as an historical microcosm, showing the long, rich, and diverse history of Madaba’s occupation on the entire tell over thousands of years. Pottery excavated at the site dates to Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Abbasid, Mamluk, and Late Ottoman periods (see archaeological periods and timeline HERE). There is also evidence that the area was first settled in the Bronze Age and was occupied during the Iron Age as a Moabite city. During the Hellenistic period a small village was established, and during the second century AD this village blossomed into a true city, with its population reaching a peak during the Byzantine period.
The oldest part of the archaeological park itself dates back to the Roman period and includes exposed stretches of the original Roman Road (cardo) of the second century AD. The Byzantine Period is the best-represented era (sixth century AD), and it is reflected in the Burnt Palace and the Church of the Martyrs. There was also considerable Islamic expansion during the seventh and eighth centuries AD; however, following this era of expansion the site was, due in part to a massive earthquake in the middle of the eighth century AD, largely abandoned up until the late 19th century, when Christian families from Karak settled in the area. Remnants of this time include a complex of traditional homes still visible within the site, which will become the ground floor of the new museum. Madaba is known as the city of mosaics, deriving primarily from the Byzantine Period; remarkable examples of this art form can be seen throughout the Archaeological Park as well as the surrounding area.
The project envisions this Museum Complex, comprised of the Late 19th-century Settlement, the Martyr’s Church, the “Burnt Palace,” and the Roman pavement to be the centerpiece of downtown Madaba, its very social and cultural hub. The goal is to make Madaba a destination city, boosting tourism, which in turn will benefit the hotels, restaurants, shops, and shopkeepers, encouraging new businesses to arise in relation to the vast travel industry and its associated range of jobs. The team is confident that beyond protecting precious antiquities, the Museum will serve as a very concrete symbol linking the community of Madaba to its unique cultural legacy.